Bret Medway, right, pictured with Peter Solomons, sold 18-month-old first-cross ewes for $282 a head last Novermber, topping the sale. Photo by Stephen Burns

High demand for first-cross ewes at Yass

Gunning first-cross lamb producer Brent Medway uses Retallack Border Leicester rams over Merino ewes from the Riverina.

RETALLACK Border Leicester rams have been used in Brent Medway’s first-cross lamb operation on the Southern Tablelands for almost two decades.

Mr Medway runs about 3000 head at “Tolldale”, Gunning, sourcing 19 to 20-micron Merino ewes from the Riverina area.

He’s been using Retallack rams for almost 20 years, and looks for a good framed, easy care sheep.

“I worked off farm for many years so I had to have an easy care operation,” Mr Medway said.

“I buy in about 300 ewes every year as 18-month-olds and keep them to five-and-a-half years of age.”

All first-cross wethers and ewes are sold, with the wethers going as lambs and ewes usually sold at 18 months of age.

“We usually sell at the Yass saleyards in the November sale,” Mr Medway said.

“We topped the last November sale with $282 a head and they averaged $262.”

He had more success earlier this month with younger ewes, selling seven to eight-month-old ewes for a top of $265 and average of $250.

“If there’s an opportunity like there was a few weeks ago, I’ll sell them earlier.

“There’s been good demand from restockers for those first-cross ewes. It’s still a pretty good season and while the lamb prices are good, the demand is there for the ewes. With the wethers, the stores go to Wagga Wagga and the heavy lambs – they’re dressing about 24 kilograms to 25kg, go to Southern Meats.

​"All the wethers are sold as lambs not hoggets, so they’re all gone by seven to eight months of age.”

The property is mainly natural pasture, with a small amount of oats, which is grown in preparation for pasture improvement.

“I fertilise every second year, and I’m usually improving about 50ha each year with a fescue, clover and ryegrass mix,” Mr Medway said.

“Another thing I do is stock very conservatively. It’s not worth overstocking, so I’ve got the flexibility to respond to seasonal conditions. 

“If it’s a good season I can buy cattle in, but it also means I don’t have to get rid of stock as soon as it turns dry.”

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